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Preface to the video

Purpose of the video

The original LinuxMCE 1.0 demo video was in only a couple hours and just shows some of the software's capabilities. Much more effort was put into this new video which is intended to be a walk-through and tutorial as much as a demo. Together with this document, which explains all the steps in more detail, it should be a getting started guide for LinuxMCE. Some things in this document are technical and intended for seasoned Linux users who want to get under the hood, but the goal is that newbie's can get LinuxMCE up and running quickly.

Getting the video in high-def

It's easy to watch the video on Google Video since you don't need to download anything. But, if you're interested in LinuxMCE it's recommended you download the original version, which is in 720p high-def. In it you can read everything on the screen clearly, even the small text on the web pages. All the screen captures and footage were done in HD. It's available in 2 formats: To watch it on a Windows PC, the Windows Media Video (wmv) format is easiest since you don't need any codecs and it's widely supported. It's also in Ogg Theora format (.ogm), which is supported by most Linux distros and can be played using the Kubuntu Live CD. The quality is about the same between the 2 formats.

Stability of the software

The actual architecture in the original LinuxMCE 1.0, which was inherited from Pluto, was already stable. However, the integration with Ubuntu was very incomplete, the setup was pre-alpha at best, and a lot of the features didn't work. In the online survey which asks users if their installation was successful only 23% said 'yes'. With the RC1 for this version it is now 86%, which is quite good considering only 93% reported they were able to get through the Kubuntu installation. Every feature in the demo video should be stable now, with a few exceptions noted below. Basic media playback is now rock solid. A stress-test demo script hammers the system constantly, changing content, playback speed, skipping chapters, etc., several times a seconds, while in parallel forcing the GUI's screens to change, flip through cover art, etc. I've left it running for days, simulating hundreds of thousands of media cycles, without any crashes. There are still missing features, but what you see in the demo video works well.

Equipment used in the demo

In the detailed info for the video I reference the equipment used by number in parenthesis: e.g. boot the computer (1) and insert the i/r receiver (2). Here is the equipment and, when available, the manufacturers page or a source page. I tried to use only widely available, off-the-shelf components when possible to remain vendor neutral and non-commercial. I allowed an exception with the gyro remote because it is the only remote made for LinuxMCE that uses the 3 button navigation concept native to LinuxMCE's UI. Hopefully LinuxMCE will become popular enough that there will be more choices in the near future.

1. The computer consisted of an ASUS m2npv-vm motherboard BIOS version 0901, AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ CPU, 80GB hard drive, Realtek 8139 as the 2nd network card, 1GB RAM, generic CD/DVD, keyboard used only to to install

2. USB UIRT I/R Receiver Transmitter IRTrans and Tira supposedly are also fully supported, and some of the Windows ones work, but for receiving i/r only, not for transmitting i/r codes to other devices.

3. Standard Windows MCE remote Found some on Ebay for $7 without the receiver.

4. LinuxMCE Gyro Remote This looks very similar to a Windows remote also made by Gyration, which also works with LinuxMCE. But the insides are different and the Windows remote works only as a normal air mouse, the same way it does in Windows, and doesn't have the 3 button control or Follow-me, etc.

5. Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-150 MCE

6. Buffalo Link Station, model HD-HG300LAN

7. Sharp Acquos LCD TV, model LC-26D6U

8. Yamaha Receiver, model RXV-1500

9. Motorola Dual-Tuner HD PVR from the cable company, model DCT-6412

10. Sony VAIO VGP-XL1B3 These Sony's are going out of production. You can also use the Powerfile R200, which is otherwise identical, but more expensive.

11. ZWave lamp module, ZWave motion detector, ZWave Master Controller. The Zwave USB dongle I showed in the video is out of production. I'm not sure which dongles currently in production will work.

Detailed info on the video

Before each stage is an elapsed time showing how long it took in real life to get to that step. In other words, the installation took 19 minutes 30 seconds, and the whole sequence about 4 hours.

BIOS Settings

I had to upgrade the BIOS on my PC (1) and in the BIOS under Advanced, Chipset increase the frame buffer size to 128MB RAM. That is the amount of memory given to the video card. You need 128MB of RAM to use UI2 because of the OpenGL effects.

0:00 Install LinuxMCE

Typically you only install LinuxMCE on one PC in the house, called the Core, and in any other rooms where you want media you use network boot or thin clients, which are called media directors. You can also install just the media director part of LinuxMCE on another Linux PC to use it as a media director and not use network boot. Even so there must be one Core which has the full LinuxMCE software as media directors cannot run without a Core somewhere on the network since the Core is responsible for maintaining the central directory of all media and other devices scattered around the home. If you install the full LinuxMCE Core on multple PC's, they will all act indepently and not share media and devices between them. If you just want a stand-alone media PC, just 1 pc by itself like a "normal" htpc, then install the full LinuxMCE software on that Kubuntu PC. You don't have to use the whole-house features. When you install LinuxMCE with the normal Kubuntu Live CD and 2 LinuxMCE CD's you're asked lots of questions about your region, networking, etc. But that installation takes a long time. The DVD installer is very fast and uses all defaults, you only pick the hard drive to install onto. LinuxMCE will use an IP locator service to figure out what city you're in and set your timezone, longitude and latitude, calculate your sunrise and sunset, and so on. Later LinuxMCE will confirm the location so you can change it if it's not right. The DVD installer will turn on LinuxMCE's DHCP server by default and serve addresses in the 192.168.80.x range. Change this in the admin panel under Advanced, Networking. Because it's running a DHCP server it's usually best that this main LinuxMCE box has dual network cards. The 'external' one connects to the internet, and the 'internal' one to your LAN and the other devices in your home. LinuxMCE has a configurable firewall in the admin panel. During the installation it will attempt to acquire an IP address and access the internet on all your network cards. Whichever succeeds is considered the 'external' network that will GET an IP address from DHCP, and the other one is the internal one that GIVES out IP addresses with its own DHCP server. If you have only 1 network card, it will use 2 aliases for the card. In this case, it's best to disable any other DHCP server on the network and go into the admin panel under Advanced, Network settings and give the LinuxMCE PC a static ip addess for your internet connection, and let it continue to serve IP addresses with it's own DHCP server. Or on that page you can just shut off LinuxMCE's DHCP server altogether, but then you won't be able to thin clients in other rooms and the plug and play engine won't automatically detect and configure IP devices.

19:30 Run the Video Resolution/Audio Setup Wizard

After installation hit enter to boot up the first time, which will start the video resolution/audio setup wizard